Sunday, April 22, 2012

Duane Banks Field, University of Iowa

This field looks like it is rather new, or at least newly renovated. As it is a nice little field, new seats. There are stadium seats a couple of dozen rows up from the back stop. Along the baselines are bleachers. They have a nice stone pressbox above the stands. The field is natural grass. The outfield fence is just that from the lines to the power alleys. After that there is padding on the fence. The scoreboard is your basic baseball scoreboard, but with some ads on it.

The parking is a mess, the park between the football and basketball courts. I had to park in a commuter lot a long ways away, since the Team USA wrestling finals were in the basketball stadium today.
The bottom part of the stadium, concourse and stuff looks really old and small.  They had scorecards, pocket schedules and schedule posters. The bottom of the stadium is painted yellow. There is a plaque in the park for former Hawkeye pitcher Cal Eldred who helped pay for the installation of lights.

Their ballpark menu is really either a dog, brat or nachos. The dog wasnt very good. They have one tiny little old looking concession stand over on the thirdbase side next to their equally tiny bathrooms.
Penn State had their late football coach Joe Paterono initials on the side of their hats.
First time ive ever seen the cheer squad performing at a ball game. Plus their mascot was there.  Former Kane County Cougar, Dusty Napoleon is a coach with the Hawkeyes.
The game itself was a good game the Hawkeyes would win 4 -2 over the Nittany Lions. Iowa's Sasha Kuebel got into the eighth pitching well.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Community Field, Burlington, Iowa

The second game of the day was in Burlington, Iowa. where they have been playing ball at the same location since 1947.

The park, well it has a nice blend of old and new. Since it was just remodled in the last decade. This team is the smallest market in pro baseball.

The office building, ticket office, souvenior store and concession stand are all in one building. The stands have four or five rows of stadium seats, with a dozen rows of bleachers behind them. The pressbox is above that, including the little roof covering over it. They have a bullpen bar out in left field.

                                                                 The right field picnic area

The newest addition to the park is the playground behind first base, with new grass planted beneath it.
The hot dogs are ok, the pork tenderloin sandwich needs some spice or something as it was bland. I had to put ketchup only  on it as they didnt have bbq sauce out. The Leinies Summer Shandy was good though.
I only got to see the first six innings, it was easier than the earlier game as I had some friends there to mess with. The Bees, thirdbaseman had two homers but cant throw a ball anywhere. The Bees have no pitching or defense. I had to leave early because I walked over there from the hotel and I do not want to miss my Chicago Blackhawks playoff game.

O'Brien Field, Peoria, Illinois

This weekend is one of those three games in two days weekends. It would've been four but I couldnt find another game to go to. It also is the first pro games of the year. More importantly for me the first time I will go to ballparks that I had gone to with my pa, since his passing. This isnt easy, it pulls at the heart.

The first game was a trip to Peoria, Illinois. Getting to see the Great Lakes Loons vs the Peoria Chiefs. They are celebrating ten years at their ballpark, wow I was here for the first game against the Kane County Cougars, May 24, 2002. The park really hasnt changed that much since then. It was built right downtown, below street level. You can walk around the entire park and see the game.

The park has a nice upper deck with press box and group seating on either end of the upper deck. They also have lawn seats beyond the bases and around left field to center. That is where the batters eye is with a playground behind it. They have regular stadium seats throughout the bottom part of the seating bowl.
Peoria is one of the teams who seem to have a contest or something between every inning. With their mascot Homer, a fire chiefs dog.

Outside their park the street is named after Pete Vonachen, the longtime owner of the team. Their old park was named Vonachen Field. It is west of downtown and is currently used by Bradley University as their soccer field. Not much of it still looks like it used to. Bradley also uses O 'Brien field as home of their baseball team, with signs up everywhere.

They usually import palm trees and have them planted along the crest of the lawn in left field. Today it was a reading club day so there were around a thousand or so kids there today. I was only able to stay thru half of the game since it was a hard time without my pa.

Before the game stopped for brunch at Mama Rae's Diner in Morton, Illinois. It was connected to the BP gas station. They had a good burger, I had the Bubba Burger with cheese, an fried onion ring and their bbq sauce. It was good.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Butterfield Park, Elmhurst College

Well, I have seen worse parks, but not many worse than Butterfield Park. Wow, it might not even be worth playing t-ball there. It is in the middle of a community park, they have almost nothing there for baseball. There are a few banners hung that say Elmhurst baseball, and the back of the dugouts say that, but that is about it.

The outfield fence is just that a fence with a blue banner hung around it. The stands, well I guess you can call the small things that people were sitting on stands. They are right behind home plate with poles in front of them for the backstop. The college hung a banner on the bottom half of the backstop, so if you sit on the lower part of the stands you can't see anything. There are now concessions and the bathrooms are a little room out by the tennis courts., Parking, you want to park here?, well there is a very small lot behind the left field wall. The bigger? lot is between the first base line and a playground. The park is built down a little from the street, thankfully for that today as it was windy. It is basically right off of Butterfield road, you just have to navigate some residental streets to get to the parking.

                                                          This is the back of the dugouts

The playing field it self, wow, where do I start. There is a huge lip on the front of the dirt in the infield that really made grounders interesting today. The field really looks like maybe a little league park, with not much upkeep. The grass is well iffy at best at not even being there. The infield dirt is all over the place, with huge piles of it by short and first. Behind home plate is a wreck with little fix me ups of dirt every where.

                                           This is the view from the stand behind home plate

The dugouts are kinda weird. As they look like bus stop huts rather than dugouts. The have a complete front and a window to watch the game. The ends are where the opening are. Also the pressbox is located down past third base in a stone building that is about two stories high.

                        In the fore ground is the home dugout and the building behind the fence is the press box.

The scoreboard is a little league board, that I am actually suprised it works, and even has lights. The game itself well, I left after a few innings because of the score and the incoming weather threat. It was 8-0 Elmhurst when I left in the third inning. The one memorable thing is that a foul ball hit and broke a light. The light poles are about fifty feet up, and the ones near the plate are between home and the bases, but before the dugout areas. Well a ball got up there and boom, broke one of the lights, glass came flying down all over the place and there was a big delay in the game as the Elmhurst team had to clean up the glass before play could resume.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lee Pfund Stadium, Carol Stream, IL, Wheaton College

Another weekend, another ball game. Isn't life grand. Well today was the first time that I went to the Wheaton College Thunder's home field. It isn't on campus but only about 5 or 6 miles west of it. The stadium is behind the American Legion Post on Gary Ave in Carol Stream. Pretty nice complex with a soccer field behind the stadium.

The stadium was really just renovated this winter/spring, This was only their fourth home game of the season due to the renovations. They put in an artifical turf, that looks ok, but i'm still not a big fan of the stuff. They put in lights and new dugouts. Wheaton College is working on getting together the fund to put in stands, a pressbox, and a concession stand. They had three bleachers there now, which were packed. The field itself is pretty nice, the fences have no padding and are just metal fences in the outfield with a green covering. There is brick behind the backstop and the netting is pretty new.

The game was good as Wheaton College won it 2-0 over Millikin University. The Millikin pitcher Taylor Howe went the distance, but most impressivley got out of a bases loaded nobody out situation in the middle innings. He got two put ups in the infield and a fly out deep.

                                           A look down the third base line towards home plate.

                       There scoreboard is just a basic generic scoreboard out in right center field

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Northern Illinois University, April 10th, 2012

On a day off from work I went out to DeKalb, Il to see the Northern Illinois Huskies play their intra-state rivals Illinois State University Red Birds. It was the first time i've been to a ball game at NIU, it won't be the last, but it was an expeirence. Ralph McKenzie stadium is named after the Huskies old NAIA coach back in the 50's. It is on the south side of campus.

The stadium itself well, it looks more like an oval that a ball park. Their is a ton of foul territory by the dugouts and behind home plate. The stands are only behind the plate and are more of a feel of a soccer/football game then a baseball game. As they do not curve with the diamond. The pressbox is above the stands, just like a high school football field. The outfield fence looks like an average picket fence, doesnt appear to be any padding. The scoreboard is a basic line score, scoreboard. They have a cart as a concession stand on the third base side of the stands.

                                   This is all of the stands at Ralph McKenzie Stadium in DeKalb, IL

                                           Here is a view of the scoreboard out in left field

                                                    This is the view from behind the plate.

The game it self wasn't much fun to see, as the Huskies were not very good, they would lose 22-3. I left in the middle of the fifth inning and it was 18-1 for the Red Birds. The Huskies have no pitching as their starter was a reliever over the weekend and didn't fair to well. Today he gave up ten runs.

It was extremely windy today with the wind blowing out of the north, thankfully the stands face the south. i still needed a heavy winter coat though. It is the first ball park that i've seen that faces south. It was only 314 to the left field wall, and more than a few balls left over it for the Red Birds.

The ballpark is just northwest of the football stadium, and east of the basketball stadium. It is directly south of some student housing. There were only about 100 fans there.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Naperville Central High School, April 9th, 2012

Got off work early today so off to a ball game I went. This is getting to be a habit, but a habit that I like very much. Found my way to Naperville Central's sports complex, just off of West st in downtown Naperville. Pretty good parking, but then they have like 10 fields, and just beyond the high school's property is a community park of more baseball fields.

The field looks to be in good shape, the infield looks to have just been planted this year as it isn't completley green yet. The base paths from home are grass. The outfield fence is just that a fence with a red banner across it. They have a nice backstop and dugouts, plus they have bleachers all around the. They also have a concrete building that is thin and about two stories high for the scorekeeper to sit. There are no announcements of batters just walk up music blaring.

Today, I lasted through six innings, the Naperville Central Redhawks were leading the Glenbard East Rams 10-3. The pitcher that the RedHawks had going was going very well, but their shortstop made some very nice plays including one bare handed play. I had to leave early because of the 25 mile per hour winds making it rather cold to me.

This was my first high school game since I was in high school in the late 90's, covering the Hinsdale South Hornets team for the school paper. It wont be my last one this year.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Other ballparks this spring

Since, I decided to start writing about the parks a little bit later in the spring than I started going to them here is a little review of were I have been so far this spring. My entire schedule is at

Started out the year at the Bradley Center for the Rockford Ice Hogs vs the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game  on January 14th. The arena wasn't that bad, the parking garage being right next door to it. They did a nice job of bringing their nickname into the stadium, with how some things were just for the hockey games. Plus the part in the upper deck that was a ship was kool. Plus it was bobblehead night.

After that game, was a trip to Rockford to visit some friends and see a Rockford Ice Hogs game. They are the Chicago Blackhawks affiliate in the American Hockey League, I am a huge Hawks fans. Saw them on Febrauary 11th.

It is held at the Rockford Metro Centre. It was another bobblehead night, just my luck, plus thanfully my friend who has season tickets. Got me a ticket ahead of time because the whole place was sold out. It was a good show though, I will say that much.  The Chicago Wolves were in town, they are the Vancouver Canucks affiliate in the league.

The next day I went from Rockford to Moline, Illinois. It was a Sunday and I was off so I got to go and travel to another hockey game. This time seeing the Quad City Mallards at the I Wireless Center in Moline. They are in a lower minor league than the other ones i've seen, and are independent any NHL team.The Arizona Sun Dogs were in town for the game.

The arena is right on the river with pretty good parking. You can see the action from three sides, as behind one of the nets is blocked off. The game was pretty good, the logo is one of the best that i've seen.

After that I went up to Michigan to see some family and took my uncle to his first hockey game since before I was born. We went to see the Junior level Saginaw Spirit. It was a fun game with a lot of fights, and having to explain what was going on in the game.

Finally the first ball game of the year was at Judson University on March 17th. against Illinois Technical University. Again two years in a row I lead off the season at Judson. The diffrence is this year they actually put in solid metal bleachers, instead of stands that were put into the ground like rocks on the side of a hill. They also upgraded the field.

The first actual trip of the year was the next weekend. It was great, to get away for two days. I started out going to the ball game down at Illinois Weslyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. I really liked the ball park. It didn't have that many seats, maybe six rows of staduim seats. Plus the whole fan part was at a big incline. The bricks on the backstop were nice. It was their home opener. There is no parking around the field though, as I had to park in the street behind the outfield fence.

After that game I went to the hotel, and then had tickets to go and see the Peoria Rivermen play some hockey. The Peoria Civic Center is right downtown, down just north of O'Brien Field, there is a nice parking garage across the street. This place is huge as there is a convention hall, which had an outdoors type fest that weekend. The game itself was the Milwaukee Admirals vs the Peoria Rivermen. The place is also home to the Bradley University basketball teams, as they have retired numbers for both Bradley and the Rivermen on the walls. It is a long way up to the nose bleed seats though, eventhough there really wasn't many people there. It was alumi night as they had a pre game alumni game. It was a seperate ticket to that event so I didn't go.

The best part of the whole day was in between periods they had the #29 Kevin Harvick chevey on the ice. I lost my pa a couple of months before and that was his favorite number and driver. I like him because his car used to be the #3.

The next day it was off to see Illinois State University play some baseball in Bloomington, Illinois. With a stop at the ice arena in Bloomington to look around.

Duffy Bass field is in the middle of the sports complex with the basketball, soccer, softball and football fields all around. The parking is ok, as there is a big lot over by the softball field. The games are free, programs are 2.00 and media guides are 5.00. The stadium is ok. it looks like a division 1 baseball field should, or even like some of the minor league parks should look like. With a lawn and stadium seats. They have one small concession stand.

Next on the list is a trip to division 3 baseball. Aurora University is a small school thankfully not far from home. It is on the west side of the river, while the park they play in is on the east side. In a little residential neighborhood. It isn't that much fun to find, they do have good parking. Eventhough since it was closer to home I rode the bike. It was only 17 miles for me. There is nothing close to there to eat though, as I got there early and had to ride into town, and then just settle for snacks at a local gas station, as lunch. The field has little portable stands, and is in a community park. The do have lights though. Unfortunatly I blew a tire coming home and had to call for a ride home.

While the bike was in the shop the next day was a trip down to the University of Illinois in Champaign. The Fighting Illini. The park is west of campus and the parking is a grass field. The park itself is pretty nice with benches for seats. They have a small concession area. Programs are 1.00 and media guides are 5.00.

that should do it, you should be caught up for the year so far, still have many more places on the schedule to go to. Plus a ton more that I would love to go to. I have only been to 9 college parks. 8 hockey areans, 42 minor league parks and 6 major league parks. So there is a ton more to explore.

Rocky Miller Park, Northwestern University

The second game of the weekend was my first Big 10 conference game. I drove up to Evanston to see Purdue University vs Northwestern University play the final game of their series. Purdue was ranked 19th in the nation before the series.

The Wildcats pitcher Zach Morton started out well, before the Boilermakers just waiting him out, and got a four run inning in the fourth. Three errors didn't really help that much, but against a good team like Purdue you just can't give them runs. After that they would continue to add on runs against the Wildcat bullpen and end up with a 8-4 win.

The ballpark is 54 years old and looks it, besides the field. It is in a sports complex along with Ryan Field (football) and Welsh-Ryan arena (Basketball). plus the softball field. The whole complex is northwest of the university. It is 7.00 to get in for baseball, parking is free. There is a big lot to north of the stadiums. The part that i liked was the little restruant just off of the parking lot. It is called Mustard's Last Stand, it is a little dinky place. I had the hotdogs, they were ok, the fries were missing something.

Rocky Miller Park has a lot of purple in it, of course since it is the Wildcats color. Press box is behind a half dozen rows of benches, that really are not that comfortable. The scoreboard is operated by players down right behind home plate at a table. The park underwent a lot of improvements and a rededication in 1984. The field itself was just replaced this past fall. The park seats 600 fans. The concession stand is a trailer with an outdoor grill. The bathrooms are way out beyond the outfield fence in the Wildcat training building. The have a lot of posters and schedules.

Illinois Chicago

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Made the trip into the city today to go and see my eighth college ballpark. This time I got to Les Miller park home of the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames. The day that I saw them they played the Valparaiso Crusaders of Valparaiso, Indiana. The game was a pretty good game with a great pitched 3-2 win for the Flames.

The park itself is just south of campus and of I-290. It was fairly easy to get to the park, parking though wasn't much fun to find. The guest parking for events is 9.00. You can park a little over a quarter mile from the ballpark. The field being only blocks away from the loop is fairly in a older neighborhood.

Les Miller park itself, isn't really much. It looks like a glorified generic high school ball park. The stands are metal and only sit around 1,000. The seats are ok, with chair backs. The field is field turf and looking a little warn. With dark spots in the infield around the bases and the mound. The outfield fence is blue with no ads, and the scoreboard is a little basic board. The park is only 16 years old and named for their old baseball coach. One part of the park I did like was the bricks being used as the backstop.

There is an admission price of 7.00. Programs are a scorecard with rosters printed on them. They do not have that many pocket schedules or any other type of stuff. The concession stand is behind the park. The whole place has soccer field and a softball diamond behind the park. The concession stand is in between all of this.

I suggest taking the train to the ball park since it is near the loop, as parking isn't that much fun to be had. I will be back at the park for the Horizon League championships on May 26th. The best part of the whole park is the view over the outfield wall of the Sears Tower and downtown Chicago.